Jayhawks Scrimmage Crisp

The Kansas Jayhawks marked the midpoint of spring practice with a solid scrimmage in front of about 2,000 fans Saturday afternoon at the Hummer Sports Complex in Topeka.

“I really liked the way our kids scrimmaged,” Kansas head coach Mark Mangino said.  “It was intense.  We’re finding out a little bit about ourselves.”

As one would expect, the defense was well ahead of the offense, but Mangino was pleased with the progress of his team – both veterans and newcomers – and the play on both sides of the football.

On offense,…

Redshirt freshman Kerry Meier got most of the repetitions with the first-team offense and, despite some timing issues, looked confident, throwing the ball with authority even though the coaching staff decided to test him.

Mangino said, “I thought that Kerry looked sharp today, considering the amount of plays he was given today.  The situations we put him in were rather difficult.  On defense, we cut them loose and allowed them to blitz and gave a lot of looks.  I was real pleased on how he recognized things.  He just needs to smooth out some thing fundamentally.”

But don’t think for a minute that the questions about the starting quarterback spot are close to being answered.  Mangino also liked the work of senior-to-be Adam Barmann.

“I thought Adam did some good things today,” the coach said.  “He made some nice throws.  Obviously, you can see, he’s in command of what he’s doing out there.  He’s a veteran guy.  He didn’t get as many reps as Kerry did, but that was planned that way.”

“When I feel like and the coaches feel like we have the guy who’s going to be the starter, we’ll make that decision.  We don’t feel like we’re under pressure to do that quickly,” Mangino added.

Most of the time, the running game for both the first and second units looked more like a rugby scrum than anything else, and the coach saw plenty of positives as well as plenty to work on.

“I thought we did a nice job of getting some creases but our defense was doing a good job of closing those creases fast.  As an offensive line, we’re doing a good job of getting off the ball, now we’ve got to keep our feet moving and finish blocks.  We’re getting into people; we just have to do a better job of finishing blocks.”

On defense,…

Even though it’s expected that the defense is well ahead of the offense, there were plenty of hits delivered and plays made on that side of the ball as well.  Mangino was pleased.

“You can tell that we’re going to be pretty decent on defense again,” he observed.  “We’re kind of green.  We’ve got some young kids who are learning on the run a little bit, but you can see the defense will be pretty decent.”

“We didn’t have a lot of turnovers.  Our defense takes pride in getting turnovers, but that’s good because we also coach the offense not to give up turnovers so you can’t win either way,” he said, smiling. 

“But I liked it,” Mangino continued.  “Aqib (Talib) is solid out there.  The young corners that we brought in, they’re learning.  Blake (Bueltel) and Mike McCoy are learning.  They’ve got a long way to go, but they’re good players.  They’re going to be fine.  Jerome Kemp is solid, as always.  You see Tang Bacheyie out there, making plays.  Darrell Stuckey, that’s a true freshman out there, running around, making plays.  Olaitan Oguntodu is a talented guy.  He’s actually a high school player right now; he should still be in high school.  I like the way the secondary looks.  We’re young but we’re on track.”

Mangino was also quick to address the burning question of whether or not there is life after Banks Floodman, Kevin Kane and Nick ReidJames Holt, Mike Rivera and Joe Mortensen started for the blue team.

“The linebacking crew did a nice job today.  Obviously there’s communication things between the linebackers and the secondary that have to be worked our, but we’re in spring football.  That’s why we practice.  I liked the way the linebackers played downhill today.”

Final assessment

While there wasn’t much to write home about as far as flashy runs or long passes, it’s once again clear that KU continues to become sharper, crisper, bigger, stronger and more athletic.  If they had to tee it up and kick it off tomorrow, they’d be in serious trouble.  But it appears that the hard work and benefits of all those extra Fort Worth bowl practices have carried over into a strong spring.

“I’m quite comfortable with the progress we’ve made as a team here this spring.  Now, we’ve got a lot of work to do, don’t misunderstand me.  We’ve got a long way to go.  But we’re about where I thought we would be at this point, so we’re on schedule.”

Player notes: Ringwood gone, Butler’s appeal denied

After the scrimmage, Mangino told reporters that Bruce Ringwood had been asked to leave the team.

“He’s no longer with us.  I’ve informed him it’s in his best interest and ours for him to look for another opportunity and we are assisting him right now, trying to help him with division II opportunities.  He’s a really good kid.  We really like Bruce, but we felt it was in our best interests to part company.”

More bad news: At this point, Eric Butler’s appeal for an additional year of eligibility has been denied by the NCAA.  However, that decision is being appealed.

“Theresa Becker, our director of compliance, is putting together an appeal.  We have some additional information that we did not submit the first time that probably would support him and give him a chance to win the appeal.”

Moving Day?: James Holt is listed as a safety on the KU roster but spent the day playing linebacker.

Mangino said, “He’s been there all spring; he was there part of last year, too.  He’s doing really well.”

Herford at WR: Marcus Herford took no snaps at quarterback during the scrimmage but looked much more confident at the wide receiver spot, which is an encouraging sign, said Mangino.

“As you can see, he’s head and shoulders above where he was at the end of the season last year.” Mangino said, smiling.  “He’s a young man that the bowl practices helped tremendously.  He’s carried over to spring.  He’s got to polish up some things, but he’s going to be okay.”

Competition at runningback: Jon Cornish and Angus Quigley both saw reps at runningback and both showed terrific speed by breaking long runs.  Mangino said both have plenty to work on.

On Cornish, Mangino said, “I think he runs well with the ball.  We’re still working with him on pass protection, play action, those types of things.  We have to continue working with him to help him develop the part of the runningback position that takes place without the football.  He’s making progress.”

Mangino also had kudos for the redshirt freshman from Texas but said he needs to keep his shoulder pads down.

“He still runs a little high, but that’s a fundamental thing that can be corrected.  You can see he’s athletic, he’s quick.  He’s strong; he’s not an easy guy to bring down.  But he’s got to get his pad level down so he doesn’t take as many hits,” Mangino said.


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